Story and photo by Devin Fisher
More than 1,500 Fort Carson children will awake to presents under their trees Christmas morning, thanks to the generosity of Mountain Post and local community volunteers who stocked the Santa’s Workshop shelves with toys.
With the theme of “Keeping the Holiday Spirit Alive for our Littlest Heroes,” the Fort Carson Officers’ Spouses’ Club Santa’s Workshop afforded parents of 600 Fort Carson Families an opportunity Monday-Thursday to walk through Santa’s Workshop and pick out two new toys and a bag of stocking stuffers for each child and one family game to put under the tree to ensure children of Families in hard financial times have gifts to open this Christmas.
“It truly does make my heart happy to know that so many people care and so many people contribute to make (Santa’s Workshop) happen,” Santa’s Workshop chair Crista McCormick told Fort Carson leadership and contributors attending the Dec. 3 open house at the former Godfather’s Pizza location in The Hub.
“We could not do this without the generosity of both the people on Fort Carson, the people in the greater Colorado Springs community and even all the way up in Denver,” she said.
She noted the support the Fort Carson Officers’ Spouses’ Club received from post leadership and contributions from Armed Forces Bank, Jeppesen from Denver, Pepsi Bottling Company, United Services Automobile Association, Lockheed Martin, Fort Carson Thrift Shop, Pro Promotions, KILO and RXP Radio, On the Border and Buffalo Wild Wings.
“(Santa’s Workshop) is a tremendous thing,” said Brig. Gen. James H. Doty, acting senior commander, 4th Infantry Division and Fort Carson. “The whole thing is to make sure that every one of our children has a great holiday season. I know what Christmas means to my children, so I want to make it as special for everybody.”
McCormick noted that the application process was needs-based – not rank based – and that various factors could contribute to Families needing a helping hand this holiday season.
She said more than 50 volunteers helped out this year to make Santa’s Workshop a reality. The program began back in June with the first fundraiser, a scramble golf tournament at Cheyenne Shadows Golf Course that provided a discount for teams donating toys. The FCOSC and other organizations held various fundraisers, to include a motorcycle toy run, that filled the shelves of the Santa’s Workshop and much of the old kitchen space from when it was a pizza place. The FCOSC elves and fellow volunteers worked shifts during the actual workshop, assisting parents through the toy store and keeping the shelves stocked for future shoppers.
“It is just very humbling to know that we have … that many people that want to give of themselves, their time, their money, to help out the Soldiers and Families at Fort Carson,” said Robin Arnold, FCOSC president.
She said members of the club are excited when it comes time for Santa’s Workshop.
“We know it’s a lot of hard work, but we know that we are going to help all of those Families,” she said.
Members of the FCOSC experience mixed emotions when Santa’s Workshop closes its doors each year.
“You just feel very rewarded that you were able to help that many, but feel sad you couldn’t help more,” Arnold said. “It’s bittersweet that you can’t just do this every day of the year.”
It’s a lot of hard work, but definitely time well spent, McCormick said.
“For all the insanity that it is … it is worth every moment when those parents come in the door and they see what we have available for them,” McCormick said. “The looks on their faces, the tears that some of them cry, the stories that they tell you; every moment of craziness that we all go through to make this happen every year is totally worth it.”